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 Crab Database

 Hairy Hermit Crab
 
Hairy Hermit Crab (by Karen) Common Name(s):
  Common Hermit Crab
Scientific Name:
      Pagurus cuanensis
Family:
Usual Size:  cm 
                      Photographs by Karen, Luke Richards & Andy Horton 
Identification:

Hairy Hermit Crab   by Luke Richards

A rockpooling trip to Bembridge in April 2000 revealed something a bit special and unusual, and it arrived by accident. In the teeming rain I collected a weed covered rock from a deep rockpool, which was transported home by being rather crudely wrapped up in a plastic bag, and it was only when this attractive living rock was placed in the aquarium did a small Hairy Hermit Crab reveal itself. It turned to be a specimen of Pagurus cuanensis, which is rarely discovered between the tides.

Photograph by Luke Richards

The Hermit Crab wasn't occupying a shell for some reason, so I chose a suitable sized shell for it from a spare lying around in the tank, it soon vacated it without much hesitation. I isolated the crab from the main tank for a couple of days to study it closer, and also to avoid any possible risk of it being attacked by the Corkwing Wrasse, Symphodus melops, I had at the time. A Worm Pipefish, Nerophis lumbriciformis, also fell off the rock into the plastic bag. This Bembridge beach is probably the most easterly location where this small fish is common on the northern coast of the English Channel. There have been a few records from Sussex though.

Behaviour

The Hairy Hermit Crab appears to be a bit of a loner, it doesn't get involved in constant scraps that go on between the common Pagurus bernhardus, but prefers to keep out of harms way. The crab was only ever seen munching on seaweed, so initially I thought the Hairy Hermit Crab was a herbivore, however this theory went out the window when I recently noticed it eating the leftovers of a dead shrimp! Unlike the common Pagurus bernhardus which will readily snatch food from my tongs; the Hairy Hermit Crab used to shy away from this and usually hide. It took three months before it ventured out into the open area of the tank to snatch food from my tongs.

Distribution and Bionomics

Pagurus cuanensis is reported to be common around the length of the British Isles, but it is only rarely found on the shore, and this is the first rockpooling record of this species I have received. There must be hundreds of millions of small Common Hermit Crabs, Pagurus bernhardus, compared to each one of this species discovered. It is a much smaller species with a carapace only attaining a length of 16 mm compared to 35 mm of Pagurus bernhardus. Therefore, it will only inhabit the small winkle-sized shells. In captivity it is much hardier, especially in the summer months when it will survive in uncooled aquaria.
 
 
 
 

Daisy Anemone swallowing the discarded shell of a  Hairy Hermit Crab, Pagurus cuanensis. The shell contained eggs. 

Similar species: Pagurus bernhardus

Breeding: 

 
Habitat:
 
     
Food:

Bionomics:

Range:

Additional Notes:

16 April 2007
A rockpooling trip in the calm sunshine to Worthing Pier was rewarded with half a dozen Hairy Hermit Crabs, Pagurus cuanensis, one of the infrequently encountered species seen at low tide

18 March 2007
A Gale (> Force 7) impeded a rockpooling trip to Lancing Beach as the rocks were not uncovered on the equinoctial low spring tide, so I ventured further west to Onslow Beach, east Worthing. 

Hairy Hermit Crab

The fauna was sparse: the most newsworthy discovery was not made until later when a small gastropod shell collected was found to contain the small Hairy Hermit Crab, Pagurus cuanensis, one of only a handful I have ever found between the tides. 
Full Report

17 September 2001

Pagurus cuanensis in a winkle shell (Photograph by Andy Horton)I recorded my first specimen of the Hairy Hermit Crab, Pagurus cuanensis, intertidally at Worthing Pier.

It looked very strange at first, like a small Long-legged Spider Crab, Macropodia rostrata, living in a Dogwhelk, Nucella, shell.
 
 

More Information
 

Links: 

Hermit Crabs for the younger student (NE Atlantic species only)
 
 
Crustacean Photograph Portfolio 
(Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group)

Information wanted: Please send any records of this crab, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to 
Shorewatch Project EMail Glaucus@hotmail.com. 
All messages will receive a reply. 
 
Shorewatch Project

 

FIVE KINGDOMS TAXONOMIC INDEX TO BRITISH MARINE WILDLIFE
Use these links if your are familiar with the scientific classifications of marine life
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